The Full Works Concert - Friday 2 May 2014

Jane Jones marks the birthdays of conductor Valery Gergiev and the composer Alessandro Scarlatti.

This evening's concert gets under way with the fizzing overture to Glinka's pioneering opera, Ruslan and Lyudmila. Glinka was the first Russian composer to receive wide recognition and is often regarded as the father of Russian music, influencing his fellow countrymen to produce a distinctive style all of their own. The opera is a folk tale with all the necessary ingredients - a beautiful princess and her valiant suitor, an evil wizard, battles, abduction and rescue. Tchaikovsky dubbed Ruslan “the Tsar of operas”. The overture has become a concert hall favourite in its own right. It's performed tonight by the Kirov Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev, pictured, whose birthday it is today. 

The complex and highly intricate Concerto Antico for Guitar and Small Orchestra was composed by BAFTA award-winning composer Richard Harvey for guitarist John Williams. It's a suite of tunes based on old dance and song forms from different parts of Europe. Written in 1995, it remains one of Harvey's most popular works. Harvey hoped that this highly-demanding piece would both complement and contrast the standard staples of the guitar repertoire. 

Alessandro Scarlatti was an Italian Baroque composer, especially famous for his operas and chamber cantatas, born on this day in 1660. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera and was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti. Tonight we hear Alessandro Scarlatti's Concerto Grosso No.2 in C minor, with Europa Galante conducted by Fabio Biondi. 

Rather confusingly, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, written during 1796 and 1797 isn't actually the first one he composed. The Piano Concerto No. 2 may have been published in 1801, but it was composed almost ten years earlier. Despite its relative musical conservatism, the Piano Concerto No. 1 did provoke quite a response in its day. At its premiere in Prague, the audience reacted favourably but with surprise – proving that, even when he was starting out, Beethoven was already sowing the seeds of musical revolution and challenging preconceived ideas as to what any given musical structure should contain.

The charm of the The Wand of Youth Suites is that although they were composed when Elgar was 50, they were inspired by sketches he’d made more than 30 years earlier when the teenage Elgar children had written a play about a perfect, untainted world full of butterflies, fairies, giants and moths.


Mikhail Glinka: Ruslan & Lyudmila – Overture
Valery Gergiev conducts the Kirov Orchestra 

Richard Harvey: Concerto Antico for guitar and small orchestra
Guitar: John Williams
Paul Daniel conducts the London Symphony Orchestra

Alessandro Scarlatti: Concerto Grosso No.2 in C minor
Fabio Biondi conducts Europa Galante 

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.1 in C major Opus 15
Piano: Mitsuko Uchida
Kurt Sanderling conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Edward Elgar: The Wand of Youth Suite No.1 Opus 1a
Bryden Thomson conducts the Ulster Orchestra